In order to investigate radioactive decay of Ba-130 and Ba-132 which have half-lives on the order 10(20)-10(21) a, the isotopic composition of xenon has been measured in 3.5 Ga barite of the Dresser Formation, Pilbara, Western Australia. The analyzed samples were collected at about 86 m depth from a diamond drill core (Pilbara Drilling Project). The fact that the sample has been shielded from modern cosmic ray exposure reduces the number of potentially interfering production pathways, simplifying interpretation of the Xe isotope spectrum. This spectrum is clearly distinct from that of either modern or ancient atmospheric Xe. A strong excess of Xe-130 is identified, as well as other isotopic excursions which are attributed to mass-dependent isotopic fractionation and contributions from products of uranium fission. The mass-dependent fractionation, estimated at 2.1 +/- 0.3% amu(-1), can be accounted for by mutual diffusion and Rayleigh distillation during barite formation that is consistent with geological constraints. After correction for mass-dependent fractionation, the concentrations of fissiogenic Xe isotopes demonstrate that the U-Xe isotope system has remained closed over 3.5 Ga. From the excess of Xe-130, the two successive electron capture half life of this isotope is estimated at 6.0 +/- 1.1 x 10(20) a, which is 3.4 times faster than previously estimated (Meshik et al., 2001). We could not find evidence of Ba-132 decay within our Xe isotope spectra. (C) 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Pujol, Magali Marty, Bernard Burnard, Pete Philippot, Pascal